Argentine Tango Syllabus: Section A: The Embrace

This section describes the key LearningTango principles taught for the Embrace.

(See the Syllabus page for a list of the other topics in the syllabus.)

A1: Embrace variations

Embraces typically vary, depending on factors including:

  • Closeness (body-to-body contact or further away)
  • Angle (the amount of "V")
  • Lean (or weight sharing)
  • Offset (how much they are to the right of each other's center)

A2: Some common types of embrace

This section describes a few common embraces in Tango, and how each is best used.

Variation 1: Close parallel embrace: "Airport hug"

  • Contact along the upper body, solar plexus to solar plexus, symmetrical
  • Well suited for walking and small movements, typically with traditional music
  • Axes can be separate or shared - so "lean" can vary
  • Not ideal for sweeping movements, crosses, or flashy steps

Variation 2: Open: "Looser hold"

  • Contact along the length of the "inside" arm (man's right arm, lady's left arm) - no torso contact.
  • "Outside arm" (man's left arm, lady's right arm) - not too much pressure, not used as the main lead
  • Both dancers must be on their own axes
  • Suitable for sweeping movements or flashy steps
  • Not suitable for small movements or walking steps

Variation 3: V Embrace: "Angled"

  • Closer contact on the man's right (lady's left) side, more open on the other side
  • Provides space and support for doing some figures including volcadas and crosses
  • Requires continuous dissociation from the lady (between chest and hips)
  • Well suited for rotation-based movements

Variation 4: Practice

  • Hands on each others' shoulders
  • Not generally used in social dancing.
  • Useful to work on concepts such as dissociation.
  • As this is a symmetrical hold, this helps practice movements in both directions

Note: there are many other variations (and variations of variations) possible.

A3: Deciding which embrace to use

There are different philosophies for how to determine which embrace will be used. But for the purposes of this syllabus, we will assume that the embrace type is offered by the leader, and is then accepted / rejected by the follower.

  • It's a negotiation (or collaboration), but ultimately, the follower determines how close she wants to be to the leader.
  • Neither leader nor follower should attempt to force an embrace style on the other partner
  • It's quite possible to alter the embrace during the course of the tanda, or during the dance itself.
  • If the two partners cannot agree on the embrace style to adopt, it's probably best if they don't dance with each other.

A4: Getting into the embrace

An example sequence of events for setting a close embrace might be:

  1. The leader connects with the partner's chest first
  2. The leader places his right arm lightly around her back, while raising his left arm
  3. The follower raises her right arm, and the leader's left hand joins with it
  4. The follower reaches around the leader with her left hand to set the embrace (depending on the height difference, the follower's left hand can go around the leader's neck shoulders, or back)

Key principles:

  • The order of this process is not set in stone.
  • This process should not be rushed - it should take, at least, 5-10 seconds to complete.
  • It's a good idea to use the "intro" phrase of a track for this purpose.
  • The arms should end up in the place that makes the connection work, the embrace shouldn't end up where the arm position happens to force it.

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